Check out the youth baseball game at Kiley Junior High sometime in the 1970s. Looks like a Wilshire cap on that guy “keeping book” on the right. I’m marveling at that guy with the plaid pants, Elvis glasses and sideburns, along with the pipe in his mouth. Yes, that’s a pipe! He’s pictured below on another day at Kiley on the left with the v-neck sweater and yellow T-shirt.
In the background is the Bicentennial Highway (formerly the Outer Belt) and the Five Town Plaza (formerly Grants Plaza). Wow, the plaza looks really close in this photo—it always seems further back in my memory, but everything seemed larger and distances longer back then. One of our youth baseball games at Kiley was paused for a few seconds as a Corvette and a GTO drag raced down the Bicentennial. I forget who won.
I never had those red Sixteen Acres uniforms—they were always the white wool ones below. I’ve posted the circa 1970-71 photo before (it’s not my team in front of the dank Greenleaf Park dugouts), but I never commented on those funky red, white, and black striped socks. They were the old-time “stirrup socks” that had the uncomfortable strap that went underneath white socks. It was uncomfortable enough to wear wool uni’s on a hot day, never mind two pairs of socks. Stirrup socks are supposedly making a comeback, but I can’t imagine why. Also, the wool uniforms had to be hung dry after washing, and I don’t know how many Saturday mornings I grabbed it off the line and it was still damp!
I love how some people in the Spring Meadow apartments in South Sixteen Acres wheel the Stop & Shop shopping carts home and just ditch them at the entrance to the woods on Canon Circle.
Big Lots apparently has a solution to this lazy, entitled bullshit: carts that apparently stop at the edge of the parking lot (above)! I had no idea this technology existed. Stop & Shop needs to invest in this invention!
OK, I know I’m starting to sound cranky.
So, the entrance to the woods at Canon Circle eventually leads to Redstone Lake(s), which I had mentioned years ago in another post. The lakes are technically in East Longmeadow, just over the Sixteen Acres line. This was formerly a quarry way back when East Longmeadow was known for its redstone quarries (There were more than 100 of them!) whose sandstone slabs were shipped by railroad everywhere. The historic Trinity Church in Boston’s Copley Square and the Bobst Library in New York City were built with red sandstone from East Longmeadow.
The Redstone Quarry in East Longmeadow was originally owned by the Norcross Brothers and red sandstone was harvested there in the late 1800s and again from 1965 to 1971. In the old days, the stone slabs were loaded onto trains on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. Below is the former East Longmeadow station on that rail line, which is now the Redstone Rail Trail.
In recent years they fixed the building up and now sell ice cream and hot dogs there.
Where were we? Oh yeah. The Redstone Lake area consisted of 26 acres and there was recreational swimming there in the 1950s and early 1960s, but in 1965, the lake and property was bought by the McCormick-Longmeadow Stone Company and quarrying operations began again.
From what I have been reading, the smaller lake that had the peninsula with the diving board was drained during this time and another larger quarry was dug adjacent to this one—the bigger Redstone Lake.
Supposedly, the Clean Water Act of 1972 officially shut down quarry operations there for good because the water McCormick was pumping out was going directly into the Schneelock Brook, turning the water red from the silt.
Eventually a chain link fence surrounded the property to keep people out. The house below, where people bought refreshments from makeshift take-out windows, was left in a state of disrepair:
There was a movement for the town to buy the acreage in 2008, but it never panned out. Last year I happened to look on Google Maps to see the woods around it clear-cut:
A recent satellite look reveals a housing subdivision surrounding the lakes—well, not COMPLETELY surrounding it. Only the Schneelock Brook on top prevented the development from totally enveloping the shoreline. Why couldn’t East Longmeadow preserve this area and make it a park? I checked out the street names: Redstone Drive and Hidden Ponds Drive. Ugh—the ponds were hidden all right. The area was a hidden jewel for decades, and then the woods were knocked down. Here’s what we have there now:
Okay, as I pound the keys I find myself getting angry again, whaling on the keyboard like Jerry Lee Lewis, so my rant is over.
Why haven’t I been to the Diamond Junction Lanes (formerly Palmer Bowl) in Palmer? They still have candlepin bowling, which would be more appropriate for my daughter than the giant balls. The neon sign, as you see, still exists, only modified from the one in the 1970s photo.
And the neon still works!
There was another bowling sign back in the day—looks like the 1950s judging by the car?
Love the Schlitz sign. As Red Sox fans know, “When you're out of Schlitz, you're out of beer.”
While we’re in Palmer, let’s head over to Route 20 and check out the two-story house at Liz Motor Sales—it’s almost across the street from the Monson Ballet (the Magic Lantern). It was interesting to watch the structure deteriorate over the years, and I really should have taken photos every once in a while of the place’s decay. But with Google Maps, I can easily get a timeline street view of 360 Wilbraham Street, its official address.
It was basically intact when I moved back to western Massachusetts in 2007. Perhaps Liz’s had an office in there and used the house for parts storage. Kind of fascinating to see the sign lettering fade and the top of the house bowing in as the years passed by:
Finally, in the past year, I noticed the roof had finally caved in. I wonder when the town of Palmer will make Liz’s tear the sucker down. Imagine, someone used to live there at one time! Not lately, though. No sir!
In the office building where I work—a former factory—they were cleaning out an old vault and found some World War 1-era newspapers. They were so brittle it was difficult to turn the pages without tearing them, but I managed to take a few interesting photos, including a nice racist minstrel show at the Court Square Theater, and a Charlie Chaplin flick at Fox’s Theater. "The Fox" was at 1670 Main Street, a few doors south of the Paramount Theater. It opened in 1909 as Nelson’s Theater, as I wrote in another blog post, where I had included a photo of the Nelson’s sign, but not a picture of Fox’s, its moniker from 1918 to 1934. Then it became the Art Theater until its closing in 1956. Here it is (the green sign on the right):
Yes, the field at the Walker Memorial Grandstand has been kind of hurting (to say the least) in the past few years. It’s high time they restored it, as they did with the Walker Memorial Grandstand years ago. However, the grandstand project was powered by fundraising. Surely, the city could do its job and fix the field.
OK, I’ll stop bitching now, and I’ll see you in February.